Back in January, we took a jaunt out to the countryside for a change of scenery. Virginia wine country in the dead of winter can be a drab destination, but fortunately some local businesses go out of their way to plan convivial events to chase away the winter doldrums.
[I know, I know... with all the blistering heat of late, it's hard to think back to a time of winter coats and frosty chill. This post got lost in the shuffle of Rio in February, and the chaos of life in general since then. Better late than never!]
Our home away from home for the weekend was Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast. I'm trying really hard to resist using the word "cozy" to describe this place, but the moniker totally fits. Between the Peter Rabbit thematics and the fresh-baked cookies in the kitchen, Briar Patch is cozier than a snuggly blanket in front of a roaring fire. (Which they also provide.) They do a brisk wedding business, and judging from the many photo albums the place is also gorgeous during the spring/summer/fall months. But we scheduled our visit to coincide with something near and dear to our hearts: cooking classes!
Chef Bernard Henry helped kick off the festivities with an appetizer class and wine tasting on Friday night, right in the Briar Patch kitchen. We learned the secret to preparing an easy escargot-like dish -- impress your friends! -- and sampled a range of tasty treats paired with wines from local Fox Den Winery. Chef Bernard is quintessentially French, with a big Rollie Fingers moustache and a wry sense of humor. I could listen to him talk about food prep all day. And the end results? Om nom nom.
We spent the next day roaming around downtown Middleburg and winery-hopping. Bash Virginia wines all you want; I love hanging out at these small vineyards, chatting up the winemakers and taking in the beautiful scenery.
First stop, Delaplane Cellars, with dazzling views even in the dead of winter:
Onto Fox Meadow Vineyards -- Middleburg is rife with fox references -- which happened to be serving up a delicious Tuscan Bean Stew that weekend to complement their wines:
And finally Naked Mountain Winery, where the fireside lasagna threatened to put us into a food coma:
Boof. We had just enough time to rest up before the evening cooking class back at Briar Patch.
Chef Bernard once again informed and amused us, running through something like six courses (I lost count) and bringing up volunteers for some audience participation.
From the simple (pureed carrot ginger soup? can I get a hell-yeah?) to the exotic (pineapple roasted in a huge mound of salt, served over ice cream), each course was paired with a different Fox Den wine. By the end, they pretty much had to roll us outta there a in a wheelbarrow.
Om... Nom... Zzzzzzzzzzz...
Be sure to check out Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering travel foodie posts.